A Penney for ye thoughts?

Fantasy-Medieval RPG Wages and Money

Fantasy-Medieval RPG Wages and Money
By Jason Patterson

Fantasy role-playing game money systems and currencies are typically based on real-world historical values and statistics, usually from the “Medieval” era, also known as the Middle Ages, as opposed to the earlier classical civilization of the “Age of Antiquity” (the height of the Greeks and Romans) and the latter “Modern Age”, though some games borrow from pre- and post-Medieval periods for their fantasy currency systems.


The Middle Ages span from about 476 to 1500 AD, and are broken down as follows:

Before 476 AD Classic Antiquity (Pre-Medieval) 476 – 1000 AD Early Middle Ages / Dark Ages / Late Antiquity 1000 – 1300 AD High Middle Ages 1300 – 1500 AD Late Middle Ages After 1500 AD Renaissance / Early Modern (Post-Medieval)

Casually, the Middle Ages are said to have begun with the Fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th Century, and ended with the rise of nation-states, European overseas expansion and the division and Reformation of Christianity in the early 16th Century.This work will use the Late Middle Ages, about 1450-1550, as a general baseline for all values and measurements.


One day’s work tended to be the average measure of “basic payment” for most “common” roles in any ancient time, be it civilian or military, but since there were far more serfs and peasants than anything else, we’ll use the common peasant and all of his related values as our baseline for wages and money. It should be noted this is an urban peasant or one who survives mainly on general labor and day-work, rather than a farmer, freeman or otherwise.


About 90% of the people of the Middle Ages would be considered peasants:

Freemen – fully independent individuals who worked only for themselves and owned or rented land from a Lord. Some Freeman even rose from humble beginnings and became gentry/nobles in their own rights.

Serfs – essentially indentured servants (but not slaves).Usually because of a large debt, they agreed to this indentured servitude until they could get themselves out of debt (few ever succeeded). Serfs were given a plot of land and some basic supplies by a Lord and they would work and maintain the Lord’s property (land, animals, fences, etc) and pay taxes, in exchange for security and minimal wages.

Slaves – Technically a sub-class of peasant that was treated more like property; although some slavery existed in the Early Middle Ages, the practice was slowly dying out even then and was rare or unknown by the Late Middle Ages.


Most medieval peasants, Freeman and Serf alike, worked approximately the same number of hours as a modern day hourly minimum-wage employee in 2009, about 2,000 hours a year, out of the 4,370 hours available, assuming a total availability of 12 hours a day, 365 days a year. This could be averaged out to 40 hours per week, at more or less 6 hours per day, 7 days per week. Exceptions to this average are certain, and 10 and 12 hour days were not unheard of, though part of the reason the workday was so long was because there was usually plenty of breaks for meals and naps.

Because most work was season-dependent, most peasants did not always work day-in and day-out year-round, but rather their schedule depended on the type of work they did. Peasants usually made all of their annual wage off of one or two major harvests or other seasonal yields, leaving them with more “free time” than one might think – this accounts for their seemingly “lax” work schedules.


Since peasants generally self-governed their own work schedules, their wages were figured per day (though they were rarely paid daily), week or month, and almost never by the hour, and a minimum amount of work, or quota, was usually required for a peasant to earn his complete wage. To a great extent, the same was true for Freemen who worked for themselves, as there was no point in dragging their feet, as it was THEIR fences that needed mending, animals that needed herding, crops that needed harvesting, etc.

In general, unskilled laborers, peasants without some sort of professional or artistic ability, who simply worked the land, made about 3d per day, and 1s per week, about 4s per month – 5s or 1 crown (1/4L) if they were really industrious. Those who served in the military in basic service in peacetime usually made 4p to 1s per day (this also applies to ship’s crews etc.), and usually didn’t even see battle, though the more likely the combat and the closer to the action and the more seasoned the soldier, the more he would earn.


The serf, who was not permitted to leave his Lord’s land, typically was required to work his Lord’s land 1-2 days a week, fixing fences, harvesting crops and anything else that needed done, before tending to his own farming and livelihood. The Serf typically also owed 1/3 of his crops to the Lord.

Related: http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/history/middleages/peasant.html


The “coin of the realm” was, for peasants, rarely a coin, at least not much of one, with trade and barter being much more common – trading work for animals or food, etc. But for those occasions when there was a trading of ka-ching!…

Pound – based on the now-very-nonstandard Tower Pound (350 grams) of sterling silver (in most ancient times and cultures, including the Middle Ages, silver, not gold, was the standard currency base). There was originally, no coin or other physical item (other than an actual Tower pound of silver) called a “Pound” – it was simply a convenient hypothetical unit of bulk currency, useful for accounting and record-keeping. Coins that were worth a Pound, however, such as Angels or Sovereigns, existed, but were fairly uncommon.

Crown – Common only among nobles and royalty, Crowns, some of which were silver but may also have been composed of gold, represented about five silver shillings, or one-quarter of a pound.

Shilling – when the above Pound of silver was carved up to create individual coins (silver shillings, one of which is thought to have represented the value of one cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere), you got about 20s to the Pound, so the division was more one of weight and substance than intentional assignation. Although some medieval weights were figured differently, we can generally say that a silver shilling weighed just a little less than 19 grams – fairly large, probably unwieldly coins.

Groat – Representing and likely physically composed of about four pence worth or silver

Pence – Following the Age of Antiquity’s Greek and Roman and other currency systems’ divisions for smaller units of currency, each shilling could be broken down, literally, into 12 silver pence (pennies), which were much smaller and thinner than the shillings – a shilling was worth 12 pence because you would get 12 pence if you carved up one silver shilling – again, this is more a measurement of weight than of intentional monetary value, with each penny weighing just slightly under 1.6 grams.

Ha’Penny – Valued at 1/2 of one pence, the Ha’Penny, like the Farthing below, was never common but did see use from time to time.

Farthing – Infrequently used, the Farthing was the further subdivision of the penny, with four Farthings equaling one penny. Rather than an official coin, the Farthing was usually an actual silver penny, cut into four equal pieces – not very practical to carry around but it let you work in increments smaller than one penny. This is about the most miniscule subdivision of currency ever needed and a lot of people tend to forego using such a small unit of currency.

So we see that 1 pound = 4 crowns = 20 shillings = 240 pence

According to a good number of articles and resources on the internet, it would seem to me that a typical peasant who made about three silver pennies per day would be like a modern professional – with people who made 1 penny being like a “wage slave”, burger-flipper/store clerk, etc. Since it is the lowest common denominator, I will focus on this 1p/day menial labor rule.

This would make that single penny his day’s wages, and for us in modern times, typical day wages are about $48.00 USD if you go with approximately $6.00/hour minimum wage, which may or may not be adjusted for taxes, etc.

$48.00 per day is probably about as low as you go without getting into part-time and waiters/waitresses whose wages are non-standard, and most minimum wage actually now being closer to $7.00+ per hour.

So as you can see, if you base your criteria solely on daily wage, 1 pence = $48.00 if you want to keep it really simple. I have seen other more professional and thorough research which indicates most peasants were lucky to make half a silver a day (about 5 pence) but for the sake of argument and a nice even number, I think the poorest of most of the *free* peasants probably made about a penny a day, some more.

Going on the above assumption that an entry-level unskilled laborer made a penny a day, we have a fantasy/medieval penny basically being worth a modern (2009) USD total of about $48.00, even say $50.00 to even it off.

It takes 12 pence to make a shilling, so ($50 x 12 = $524.00) one shilling would be worth $524.00 USD. This means an unskilled laborer peasant would likely earn still less than a shilling for two weeks of work.

A farthing, being simply a penny cut into fourths, would have been worth about $12.50. This seems a bit much, so let us stop here with this amount, and return to our basic assumption and change the average daily wage from one penny to one shilling.

Let us, in this 1s/day rule, include not just the coin itself for the work, but potentially room and board (food, clothing, amenities), which could obviously not have been the case for the once penny wage, as a full belly and a roof overhead would be worth far more than one shiny penny. So let’s take the full combination of the “liquid” payment as well as the abstracts and call it 1 silver shilling per day payment for an unskilled laborer.

Let us now instead make the silver shilling worth $48.00 USD.

A penny (a 12th of a silver shilling) would have been worth about ($48 / 12 = 4) $4.00 USD, which would also nicely emulate the farthing, making each farthing worth $1.00 USD.

Going up to the pound or crown, the 20 silver shillings that make up a pound would equate to (20×48=960) $960.00 USD, which you could, without too much trouble, round down to $950 or up to an even $1,000.00 USD.

Obviously, farthings would be your dollar bill, and nearly everything of significance in any historical or roleplaying game economy, especially lesser items, costs at least that much, while pence are next up as more or less the $4.00/$5.00 bill, and are pretty common too.

Lastly, suppose in between these extremes is the person who made 3 pence per day? We would divide our initial figurings by 3 ($48/3=16) to get a modern-day equivalent worth of $16.00 per penny.

This would make Farthings worth ($16/4=4) $4.00 USD each, shillings worth ($16×20=320) $320.00, crowns worth $1,600 and one tower pound sterling $6,400 each.

So which is correct for your purposes? Really, it will depend on what you determine as the baseline for your own situation, whether you use a low, medium or high average wage and pay scale, and whether or not you figure in intangibles – as in most other things in life, essentially, your mileage may vary.

Jason J. Patterson – June 29, 1973 – Small town in northeast Oklahoma on Hwy. 66, U.S.A.

WRITING HISTORY In my teens, I began writing short stories and home-made “choose-your-own-adventure” type “books” (really just a few pieces of typed paper stapled together), and personal thoughts on philosophy and metaphysics and culture, as well as personal and dream journals

I have also written a number of informal, freely released supplements, rules errata, resources and scenarios for tabletop role-playing games, as well as a simple board game and a couple of dice game rules sets.

As a child and young adult, I was an avid reader, mostly of fantasy and some horror and science fiction novels (Dean R. Koontz, Piers Anthony, David Eddings, Dragonlance, etc.), as well as books related to language, the paranormal, philosophy and various other references, with boxes of literally hundreds of books – this lead to an interest in developing my own writing skills, and I also have some ability at freehand sketching/cartooning – with examples online at Elfwood and Deviantart.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Jason_Patterson



Interesting Stuff!

Hello everybody of JIGG!

I just thought I let you in on a couple of interesting stuff I found on
the Web, maybe there’s something for one or the other.

Here we go:

In search for the Uber-Fantasy-World? Take a look at Glorantha:
(Link found in the Game Designer’s Journal on the Gaming Outpost:

Steve Jackson Game will release what could become the defining game for
JIGG: “Chez Geek” (Have a look yourself)

In search for gaming reviews and other stuff? Have a look at RPGNet
(lots) or the Gaming Outpost (few):

Beautiful modular terrain for miniature games is produced by GeoHex,
with and without printed hexes (expensive though)

For all Cthulhoids out there: Pagan Publishing and the Unspeakable Oath
Online are at:

The Blue Room, an interesting page by S. John Ross (e.g., check out
“Gunmetal Blue”, a page about Badassitude in RPG’s)

That’s all about the more obscure links. Have fun!

^_^ Roland



GMing RPGs Under a Time Limit

“There is a very fine line between “hobby” and “mental illness”.”

–Dave Barry

by Steven ‘Stan!’ Brown

How many times have you gotten involved in a role-playing event at
a convention only to have the experience ruined by time restraints? Just
when things start to get interesting the table is needed for the next event
or, to avoid this fate, the GM is forced to cram two hours of plot into 30
minutes of high intensity dice rolling.. Players (or even the GM) show up
late. The plot is too damned long or the time slot is too damned short.
Whatever the reason, you’ve put in four hours of effort and come out with a
much-less-than-satisfactory gaming memory.
And how many times have you had your gaming crew over to your place
under the condition that everything absolutely must be finished by the time
your wife.girlfriend gets home? Invariably she walks into a room full of
dice, spilled munchies, and people screaming things like “12 points to the
kobold!” “Does resist evil help me here?” ” and “Search the body! Search
the body!” You know you’re sleeping on the couch tonight and your buddies
want to come back again next week “cause you’ve got the best table.”
It goes without saying that RPGs are at their best in an
unrestricted environment. Arbitrary parameters like time limits can (and
usually do) ruin the rhythm, impact, and fun of otherwise enjoyable
scenarios. There are many instances, however, when getting from start to
finish must be done within a limited period of time.
So what is a GM faced with one of these “count-down” situations
supposed to do? Give a disclaimer before play begins (“Due to time
restrictions this adventure may suck”)?
No! There is no reason that a time-slotted RPG event cannot be fun
and satisfying if the GM understands the fundamental differences between
running unrestricted scenarios and those with a built-in deadline. Playing
within a time limit is just a matter of the GM planning the adventure the
same way he’d plan a road trip.

Just as it’s impossible to drive from New York to Los Angeles in a
day, some adventures are impossible to squeeze into some time slots. Make
sure that your scenario (whether it’s pre-packaged or home-made) is
playable in the time allotted. Check the plot against the following table
to gauge how much time it should take.

Plot Development Time Required
Minor PC/NPC interaction 15 minutes
Major PC/NPC interaction 30 minutes
Search new location 20 minutes
Figure out minor plot twist 20 minutes
Figure out major plot twist 45 minutes
Make important decision 20 minutes
Minor combat 30+ minutes
Major combat 60+minutes

Most pre-packaged and almost all home-made adventures consist of a
starting point, a finishing point, and situations that characters may or
may not wander into along the way. I refer to this as a “random
encounters” scenario and it is incompatible with time constrained play. If
the GM doesn’t know, with relative certainty, what path the characters will
take through the plot, it is impossible to accurately determine how long
play will take.
If you’re writing your own scenario, make sure that you plot only
those details necessary for finishing the adventure. If you’re using a
pre-packaged plot, eliminate all the extraneous information and leave the
basic plot intact.
I don’t mean that the GM should lead the players by the hand. They
should always feel like they are controlling their own destiny.
Experienced GMs know how to set a scene so that players will want to do
what must be done. This skill is vital to staying within a time limit.
There should be nothing random in a scenario on a deadline.

Since most convention time-slots are four hours long, plan an event
for a series of four 1 hour segments. Make a loose plan for each hour of
play and note what absolutely must be accomplished each hour. This way
you’ll easily know if you’re behind schedule at any given point. If you’re
behind it’s easier to speed things up in the middle than to rush through
the climactic scenes. If you’re ahead of schedule see the Know Local
Points of Interest section.

In the first two turns it is important that you follow the
plot/time guidelines you’ve established. Don’t let amusing players or NPCs
slow down play. If a plot point is of some minor significance, don’t let
it take over the action. Combat is where you are most likely to fall
behind schedule. When the result of a battle is more important than the
process…fudge it! With a deadline over your shoulder the result is more
important. However, don’t fudge during the climactic events.

In the vent that you find the vent running ahead of schedule
(unlikely but possible) you should have one or two of the previously
discredited “random” encounters ready to be used. Interesting NPCs or
locations are good ways to fill up the spare 15 or 20 minutes created when
players get the Major Plot Twist on their first guess. Just be sure that
whatever you use segues smoothly back into your plot.

Have everything prepared ahead of time. This seems obvious, but
I’ve seen too many GMs go into events without the necessary information
written down or clearly marked. Keep a sheet with the stats of the NPCs
and monsters. Mark important pages in the rule book with Post-It notes.
Do not waste time flipping through your books or notes to find information
you could easily have organized ahead of time..

Once play begins stay focused on the plot and the clock. If you
can’t concentrate on the situation at hand the players never will. The
players are responsible for their own attentiveness of course, but if
things get off track a nudge from the GM (“We’ve only got two more hours”)
can be helpful.
GMing a session under time pressure is not impossible, it simply
requires more preparation. The steps above are one way to prepare for the
task, but if you merely plan ahead and keep your wits about you, you’ll do


Mike’s note:
As an addendum to Steve’s excellent article, I’d like to add one more tip
that would probably go under the Pack the Night Before section.

Use Pre-Generated Characters
Creating characters is one of the best parts of role-playing, but
for time constrained games, making characters at the table on the day of
the event will eat up at least an hour or more of your valuable playing
time, especially with games with complicated character generation systems.
Players unfamiliar with the game system will take the longest to make up a
By pre-generating characters for your adventure, not only will you
have the exact mix of characters you need, you can also present the players
with more of a role-playing challenge (giving them character types they’re
not used to). The all you have to do is pass out the character sheets,
give the players a few minutes to get familiar with their characters, and
you’re on your way!

If I ever become an Evil Overlord

If I ever become an Evil Overlord

by Mike Glover

If I Ever Become an Evil Overlord:

1.My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not
face-concealing ones.

2.My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

3.My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept
anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

4.Shooting is NOT too good for my enemies.

5.The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the
Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of
Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.

6.I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.

7.When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, “Or are
you afraid without your armies to back you up?” My reply will be, “No, just

8.When I’ve captured my adversary and he says, “Look, before you kill me,
will you at least tell me what this is all about?” I’ll say, “No.” and
shoot him.

9.After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a
quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks time during
the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

10.I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary.
If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled “Danger: Do
Not Push”.

11.I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined
to overthrow me — I’ll do it myself.

12.I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum — a small hotel
well outside my borders will work just as well.

13.I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to
prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker
alive to show they pose no threat.

14.I will not waste time making my enemy’s death look like an accident: I’m
not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn’t believe it.

15.I will make it clear that I DO know the meaning of the word “mercy”; I
simply choose not show them any.

16.One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in
my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

17.All slain enemies will be cremated, not left for dead at the bottom of
cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying
celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

18.My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of
my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere
to any other dress codes.

19.The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other
form of last request.

20.I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that
such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to active when the
counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

21.I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad
to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never
regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he’s caused.

22.I will never utter the sentence “But before I kill you, there’s just one
thing I want to know.”

23.When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their

“I`M not Dead yet…..!”

“Really I`m not dead yet, I have 5 hidden health points, hidden right here in my pants pocket.”

Dan Panamaroff relates this story on being dead:

Actually, I don’t have any tales of _my_ death. It’s not because I’m
smarter than you guys, or in any way luckier. It’s just that in my group
back in Canada, I was almost always the GM.

However, I have two stories that I would like to share from my TORG
campaign. If you don’t know, TORG was about a “Core Earth RPG” being
invaded by 5 other RPG realities. (Fantasy, Pulp, Near Future, Primitive,
Religious/Cyberpunk, & Victorian horror.)

I can’t recall the names of the characters, but that’s not important.
Basically, the characters had tracked down a bunch of kidnapped Core Earth
natives to a temple in “The Living Lands”, the primitive/high spiritual
reality that imposed itself over most of North America (This adventure was
near Eugene, Oregon.)

Basically, the native group of Edinos (Lizard men.) Were going to sacrifice
these 50 people to their God. The Edinos usually worship a Life Goddess,
offering their experiences and feelings to her. This splinter group wanted
to release the Death God, the one responsible for taking the goddess’s
senses in their mythology. (That’s why Edinos offer their experiences to
Lahana, she cannot feel anything else.) The Dark God would take over the
entire reality. and the sections of Earth that were under the alien

The is a huge stone building, basically a stadium that flipped and
transformed into a natural caldera like structure, 50 humans cowering at
the alter, 2000 screaming worshipers. The Edinos priests pull out obsidian
swords, (Heresy! Dead weapons!) and approach the humans.

Suddenly, two of the cowering humans pull weapons from under their rags!
(All humans look alike I guess.) They spend reality points and snap reality
bubbles over themselves allowing them to play by the rules of their
realities. The two heroes at the alter begin to slay the priests. A
cyperpunk hero begins to lazer down the priests, and a muscular pulp Amazon
Warrior Woman ™, begins to wade through the crowd. Her sword arm as
powerful as her heart is pure.
“How many can I attack in a single round?”

At the back, an Alysh mage pumps lighting bolts into the crowd, a 12 foot
tall Aylish giant cleric calls down _his_ God of fire to smite his enemies
and a Edinos (Lizardman) begins to spray the crowd with heavy machine-gun
fire. (He had flipped to Core Earth, and he liked it.)

The fight was amazing! I ran it cinematically. Exploding cultists. Heads
flying off (The Amazon.) and explosions of both tech, magic and raw
spiritual energy! When the God appeared in his Avatar, things really got
bad. The players almost needed a change of underwear.

In the end, to cover the other characters using their “reality skills” to
destroy the Avatar, the Alysh priest was attracting attention and keeping
the (surviving) cultists off the group with his prodigious strength, and
his (Huge!) magical ball and chain.

Think of going through a display of watermelons at your local supermarket
with a baseball bat…

Wave after wave! Finally, he is wounded again, seriously, just as the God
is defeated.

GM (Me): Are you going to spend a possibility to reduce damage?
JIM: I don’t have any left, sorry. (Leans back with a satisfied smile.)
ALL AT THE TABLE: Whoa!!! Wow!!!
GM (Me): That was amazing… I really didn’t think he was going to die…
JIM: That’s OK. It’s was pretty cool though…

That was the HARDEST (Mike’s term.) death I have ever seen and/or
experienced in a RPG. We drank a toast to the character that night.


The reason it sticks in my mind was that

#1 He really did give his life to save the group.

and #2 He (Jim) did it without whining or puling. He was satisfied with how
he went out. He knew the rest of the group was alive because of him. He
went out for his friends and died knowing that they were alive because of

I think that was when I learned that a character death in an RPG is
sometimes just as important as his origin.


The worst death I have seen was of an Aylish mage (No, another one, this
one was a dark elf.). He was hit by a pulp sonic pistol when he was out of
reality points and was unable to buy off damage. Later, (One 1/2 hour to be
exact.) he tried to explain to me that he really had not died…

All of the players had been contributing reality points to recharge a
relic. This “player” had decided to hold out on the group. He told me that
he was going to write in a box on the back of his sheet 5 reality points
that he was going to “save” for himself. I said sure. (Even though I knew
he was being greedy. Skirting the border between role-playing “greed”, and
actually being a greedy player.)

Both of us had forgotten about the saved points. When he remembered them he
reminded me, I frowned and said.

“Your still dead, and now your [stupid] too.”


Tony Dolan`s Suckass Death

Tony Dolan`s Suckass Death (in roleplaying games)

Well, as I wipe the tears from my eyes form that beautiful
story, I will relate my own most suckass death. This particular death
was particularly galling because I saw it coming but there wasn’t a damn
thing I could do about. We were in Mike Montessa’s Call of Cthulhu game.
We had chased the bad guys all the way from NYC to the pyramids of
Egypt, surviving many perils and slowly building up our characters. It
looked like we were about to reach the heart of the mystery. And we did,
and this is where the trouble started. Now, for those of you unfamiliar
with C of C (there must be somebody), it is generally not a game that
rewards the impulsive player. So when we saw that huge, eldritch throne
in the bowels of the evil pyramid, I remember thinking,”it would be a
poor idea to sit on that nasty looking throne.” Yet, at the very moment
I was thinking this, I hear from one of the other players, “I’ll go and
sit on it.” I started repeating a mantra to myself,”no,no,no,no..,” real
quiet-like. Maybe Mike didn’t hear…I looked over to Jay Noyes, who was
also in that campaign. He had his head down, his eyes squinched closed,
and he was shaking his head ever so slightly, “no,no,no,…” But Mike
calls out,”What?” “I’m gonna go over and SIT on it.” And then Mike just
sighed, and I sighed, and Jay sighed. We all sighed. And then
Nyarlathotep invaded his twitching, howling carcass up there on the
throne, blasting us for D100 san per round. I lasted a round or two,
even got a spell off *plink* before I ran screaming, screaming,
hopelessly insane. I remember Jay’s character clawing his eyes out, but
that’s another story. All told, a moment’s stubborn impulse killed or
incapacited all but one of the party members. The only thing Mike could
say was, “Well, it’s time to bring out your backup characters.”

Tony Dolan

Best Character Deaths

Best Character Deaths

My tastes in character deaths may be a little different from the rest
here, but take it for what it’s worth…

Best Character Death: …of course requires the character be
appreciated. Kagck was a kobold: lowdown, shrimpy, scurrilous, pridefully
brave, a pickpocket and a priest of his race’s god. Being thrown in with
adventurers of other races who were taller, stronger, and had better teeth
gave him more opportunities to cause trouble than it did to show off, but he
polished his pride regardless in one field where he excelled: scouting.
Kagck would compulsively slip ahead of the rest of the group, see what was
about to be faced, and bring back a few trophies on his own when he could
I don’t remember what lead to Kagck’s last dungeon plunge. (It was an
AD&D game, if ye hadn’t already guessed, so there were no shortage of
these.) Undoubtedly it was another spoke on the wheel of the dire quest we
had to complete. The caves we were spelunking were natural and live, and we
had yet to encounter any guardians or artificial construction as we proceded
down. The party was in cautious travel mode. Around a few corners and down
a few declines we came across a cliff edge, 40 feet down and no visible
means of descent.
Naturally Kagck climbed it.
Well, he tried.
Kagck’s rather unexpected but very decisive death was a poignant little
reminder that you never write off any danger. Sure, Soul Sacrificing Evil
Lords in Grimy armor may be good for getting a heroic death at the hands of,
but if sheer slopes and trapped chests weren’t meant to be exciting as well,
we wouldn’t bother rolling for them. Strange as it is to say, my favorite
character death wasn’t noble or heroic, but just served to remind the whole
group that Shit Happens.
Then that idiot wemic in the party set of a rockslide and reduced my
dogfoodised character to a dogfoodised character under several tons of rock,
because overkill happens too.

My Worst Character Death would have to have been in another AD&D game.
This one was a tournament, so all around us were a dozen other tables
running the same module with the same party fighting the same monsters and
so on. I got the party mage, possessor of the little useful “wand of
fireballs” for the dungeon crawl we were facing. (For any reader who has
never been an AD&D player, the fireball serves to be one of the defining
points of the game. It does tremendous damage to everything in a huge area,
including the players, if they get caught in the backblast. In ye olde
narrow winding dungeon, you generally don’t find a safe place to fire one of
these off.)
Well, halfway into the dungeon, the party opens yet another nondescript
door. On the other side a HUGE cavern glitters and gleams, filled with
jewelry, gems, coins, and the swelling form of an inhaling Very Old White
Dragon getting ready to turn the entire group into very heroic & noble
popsickles with it’s lethal breath.
The DM informs us that we have time to declare one action before facing
our fate, and my response is to fire off a blast with my fireball revolver.
The GM makes a satisfied grin and rolls up damage for the party. No, of
COURSE there wasn’t actually a huge cavern there to absorb the blast. The
whole thing was an illusion covering a 10’x10′ room. Wasn’t it OBVIOUS how
set up it was? Sorry, mr. gm man, i just came here from playing low fantasy
for the last many years; we don’t design traps for any inevitable area
effect boom spells into our dungeons. Natch, not only was the DM looking at
me as the idiot that i obviously was, but the rest of the players were too.